Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, will try again next year, after two years of frustration trying to push a package of child care tax credits through the Missouri Legislature.

The measure once again failed to get anywhere in the Senate. Shields couldn’t get past the opposition from fellow Republicans who make up the ultra-conservative Senate Freedom Caucus.

“They just really wanted to cut all of the tax credits out of it, so that it would not have made it a bill worth passing or wouldn’t have done what we are looking for is to create access to child care that is quality, reliable, safe, and affordable,” Shields told Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph.

Shields’ bill would have provided tax breaks for child care centers to expand, give businesses tax credits for helping employees pay for child care, and those who donate to child care providers could get a credit. The bill breezed through the House, but not the Senate.

“I think that for Missouri’s economy to grow, which we know we lost over $1.35 billion in Missouri’s economy, which would have been about $280 million in general revenue as people pay their taxes, I think it’s really necessary,” Shields said. “If we don’t have a workforce, we can’t grow the economy.”

Shields got backing from Gov. Mike Parson as well as from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Both saw it as necessary for state economic growth.

Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan blames the Senate for failing to address what the Chamber considers a very real economic problem.

“State Rep. Brenda Shields did a fantastic job getting the child care bill through the House and into the Senate,” Mehan told KFEQ. “For two years running, the Senate failed to vote it out of the Senate and deliver it to the governor’s desk for signature.”

Mehan is frustrated by antics in the Missouri Senate that have killed the bill.

“Last year, it was the vote that would have been taken on the last day. It was the next vote up and we endured a filibuster for the last four hours of the session,” Mehan said. “This year, we pretty much lost that whole week, that last week of session. So, they never brought it up for a vote on the floor.”

Mehan said a lack of child care or the expense of child care have prevented some women from returning to the workforce post-COVID.

By Brent Martin, of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph

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